You have a significant amount in your bank accounts — and you don’t relish the idea of those accounts being passed through probate and being subject to taxation or other fees. You’d much prefer that they pass directly to your heir(s) after your death.
At the same time, the idea of putting your heir on your accounts as a co-owner gives you pause. That’s problematic not only legally (if they have unpaid debts) but feels like an invasion of your privacy. What are your options?
A Totten trust might help
This is a type of revocable trust that works pretty much the same as a “payable-on-death” (POD) designation.
You can open up a bank account as the trustee for your heir, but they will have no control over the account (nor the ability to access it) in your lifetime. In essence, you act as the trustee over the account until the time of your death. At that point, the funds will pass seamlessly to your heir (or heirs) without going through probate.
An added advantage of this kind of trust is that you retain control over the funds. The revocable nature of the trust means that you can, should you so choose, end the trust and do something else with your money.
Why work with an attorney?
Banks have been creating POD accounts for decades, but working with an attorney on your estate plans is generally wisest. There may be multiple solutions available to some of your most pressing concerns about your estate. An attorney is best suited to help you clarify your goals and set things right.